Story by: SYDNEY GEATHERS / Paul Robeson High School
Photo by: EMMANUELYNE DARGBEH / Academy at Palumbo
“It’s like you’re getting a scholarship to jail not for school,” State Representative W.Curtis Thomas said.
In North Philadelphia, two schools, William Penn and Wanamaker, were closed in the past and now Harrison.
“Something is wrong with that picture, it’s disrespect to poor people,” said Thomas, who filed a lawsuit to stop Harrison from closing.
Thomas, who represents North Philadelphia in the state legislature, echoed the concerns of many Democrats, who have criticized the administration of Governor Tom Corbett for cutting $1 billion from kindergarten through twelfth-grade education.
The lawsuit to keep Harrison from closing started in March 2012. Parents did not know of the closing and they were told that there was “no real location” where former Harrison Elementary School was supposed to go.
Twenty-two percent of Harrison students have special needs, and have to go to either Ludlow or Spring Garden Schools. Representative Thomas following negotiations to accommodate the parents’ later dropped the lawsuit which alleged a strategy of “flooding the area of North Central Philadelphia with charter schools” and described school closings as a “calculated effort to privatize the education of the poorest students.”
“I helped start Charter Schools. They are not there to substitute, or compete. I don’t support that,” Thomas said. The school district is supposed to be closing 40 more schools by the year of 2013.
“It’s a disgrace, a national disgrace,” said Thomas.